Buds N Bugs: Painted Buntings

Buds N Bugs: Painted Buntings

Buds N Bugs: Painted Buntings

Rod Gasche
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM.

Painted buntings may be a species on the way out but efforts are underway to save them.

Painted buntings are shy, secretive and often difficult to observe, except when they are busy at a bird feeder. Once they have discovered an easy source of food, over time they become less wary of activity nearby. Otherwise, this bird loves to hide in thickets making it difficult to spot.

This bird is considered by many to be the most beautiful in North America and their behaviors are interesting to watch.

The male has a dark blue head, green back with red rump, and underparts, which make it extremely easy to identify. The plumage of female and juvenile is green and yellow-green, one of the only truly green birds native to the United States. It is a member of the cardinal family.

 During the spring, males sing from exposed perches. The song is sweet and variable. They also flutter around like a butterfly, fluff, bow and quiver their wings when seeking a mate.

Painted buntings feed on seed, snails, spiders and small insects. They often forage on the ground hopping about nervously to avoid predators. They are largely monogamous and are most often seen alone or as a mated pair.

Breeding begins in late April and lasts through to early August. The nest is typically hidden in low, dense vegetation. Working alone, the female weaves it into the surrounding shrubs for strength. Each brood contains three or four gray-white eggs, often spotted with brown, which are incubated for around 10 days. About 30 days after the first eggs hatch, the female usually lays a second brood. 

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